Hi. I'm Tracy, Creator of BreakThroughColour.


I’m guessing you’re here because you love colour too.

Maybe you’re an artist, a maker of colourful things. Maybe you’re an art teacher, or someone who can’t wait to learn. Maybe you’re a designer of objects, or spaces, or special events. Maybe you’re a collector of colour that you wear, share, or use to decorate your home. Maybe you’re a game player, you see colour as a toy to play with, or a puzzle to be solved. Maybe you’re a mom or a dad, curious to find new ways to teach your kids about colour so they can love it too. 

Whatever the reason, here you are, and I’m so glad you are, because I’m all those things too. I’m an artist, a teacher, a designer. I like games and toys and puzzles. I’m a mom with a partner and we live a very colourful life doing what we love.

What I’m really loving these days is colour. Did I mention that?

I should also mention this...


You too? Ahhh... maybe that’s why you’re here. Colour confused? Stuck in the mud? Completely hueless? I get that, because that was me, spinning my colour wheel, but never really getting anywhere.

I've known the primary colours since I was in primary school. And there are lots of colour resources out there: wheels, websites, kids' books, colour books, colouring books, ebooks, flip books, fan books, charts, recipes, models, maps, apps... But even with all this, I couldn’t find a single simple system that really made sense to me in my head and was also useful and practical in my hands.

So I designed one.


BreakThroughColour   |   colourful coded Cards and Cubes to explore, understand, and celebrate colour

BreakThroughColour   |   colourful coded Cards and Cubes to explore, understand, and celebrate colour

In theory, BreakThroughColour is an abstract system, a new way to explore, understand, work with, play with, and simply celebrate colour.

In practice, BreakThroughColour is a deck of cards, like a regular deck of playing cards, but with more colour. And more breakthrough.

traditional wheel of colour, traditional deck of cards

traditional wheel of colour, traditional deck of cards

A traditional colour wheel is a system too, and it's been the 'Go To' tool for artists, designers, and teachers for a very long time, showing HuesTintsShades, and Tones with cut-out covers that you can rotate to reveal more mixes and matches. But that's just it. You can move the covers, but you can't move the colours. Don't get me wrong, it's a great 'training wheel,' but no matter how you spin it, a traditional colour wheel can only take you so far.

A traditional deck of cards is great in its own way too, and who doesn't like a quiet game of solitaire, a round of Bridge, or a magic trick? But aside from black and red, not even the Joker can teach you much about colour.

That's why I took those little wedges of colour right off the wheel and I made them bigger. Big enough to hold in your hands and really move around, just like a deck of cards. I also added lots more colours.

Colour + cards = colour cards

Colour Fan   |   216  BreakThroughColour  Colour Cards

Colour Fan   |   216 BreakThroughColour Colour Cards

These are BreakThroughColour Colour Cards, a full spectrum of 216 hold-in-your-hands colours that combines a comprehensive and cohesive colour system with the usability, accessibility, and fun of playing cards.


Eight sets of 27 cards each, one set for each of BTC's 8 Corner Colours: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, White, Red, Green, Blue, and Black

Eight sets of 27 cards each, one set for each of BTC's 8 Corner Colours: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, White, Red, Green, Blue, and Black

The full deck of Colour Cards can be sorted into eight smaller decks, like suits. There's a deck for each of 6 ‘colour wheel’ colours, plus a White deck and a Black deck.

With 30 Hues60 Tints60 Shades64 Tones, plus White and Black, you can move, mix, and shuffle them into so many possible palettes, it’s almost impossible to imagine. But go ahead. Imagine. Think about that for a minute. With 216 different Colours, each one its own Colour Card, imagine what is possible...

BTC   Colour Cards   |   the  Colour Side

BTC Colour Cards   |   the Colour Side

This assortment of colours here outnumbers most colour wheels by more than half... and it still doesn't even show close to half of the colours in the BreakThroughColour Colour Card collection.


Every Colour Card has its own unique Colour Code, a 3-digit number that identifies the colour within the entire collection. You can find the code in the top right corner of every card.


All the codes (and all the colours) are based on 3 ‘element primary’ ingredientsCyanMagenta, and Yellow. In that order. Each ingredient plays a part in every colour, in amounts measured on a scale of 0 to 5. Zero means none (that ingredient isn’t even in the mix) and five means it’s there in full, as full as full can be. The Colour Code corresponds with the three ingredients and their amounts.

With six different possible amounts for each of the three different ingredients, there are 6 x 6 x 6 possible colour combinations. Ta-dah! That’s 216 different code-and-colour combos, and there's a card for every one of them, from ‘absolutely nothing’ White (000), to full-on blackout Black (555).

But the real breakthrough of BreakThroughColour isn't just the colours on the Colour Side. It's what’s on the other side that really counts...


The other side of every BreakThroughColour Colour Card is the Code Side, a visual array of numbers, letters, squares, and sliders that breaks each code down and then adds it back up again to tell you a whole lot more about each colour: what it's actually made of, how pure it is, and how light or dark it is. In other words, its HueSaturation, and Value

Just like the numbers and symbols on playing cards, you can use these ciphers to sort, sequence, mix, match, and connect any or all of your Colour Cards with any or all of the others, following standard colour schemes, or breaking the rules to explore and design your own personal palettes. 

BTC  Colour Cards   |   the Code Side

BTC Colour Cards   |   the Code Side

All this code may look un-crackable, but trust me, it’s deceptively simple to decipher. And really, this is all you need to know: if you can count from 0 to 5, you can crack the code, break through colour, and take it to a new dimension.



Colour is 3-dimensional. BreakThroughColour is 3-dimensional too, and this is the BreakThroughColour Colour Cube:

The  BreakThroughColour  Colour Cube   |   a 3D model to complement the 216 Colour Cards in the  BTC  deck 

The BreakThroughColour Colour Cube   |   a 3D model to complement the 216 Colour Cards in the BTC deck 

The BTC Colour Cube is a 3D model that I designed to complement the 216 Colour Cards in the BTC deck. It shows not just what the colours are as mixes of C, M, and Y, but where they are in relation to one another in a 3-dimensional colour space, along the axes of X, Y, and Z.

Using the same 3 'element primary' ingredients and the same scale of 0 to 5, every coded colour on the Colour Cards has its own place in this 3D Colour Cube. Hues, Tints, and Shades are on the outside, and the Tones (those muddier colours that get hidden in the middle) are right where you’d expect them to be, hiding in the middle...

The BreakThroughColour Colour Cube isn't just one big cube, it’s eight smaller cubes that fit together, one for each of the eight colour families. How cool is that? Just like you can divide the big deck of 216 cards into eight smaller decks of 27, you can divide the big cube into eight smaller cubes of 27, and see the Tones, Tints, Shades and Hues from every angle. You can’t do that with a colour wheel.

So where do you get these cool Colour Cubes? Like everything else in BTC, it’s all in the cards... 


BTC  Cube Cards   |   a set of 6 Cube Cards for each 6-sided Colour Cube

BTC Cube Cards   |   a set of 6 Cube Cards for each 6-sided Colour Cube

BreakThroughColour Colour Cubes start out as Cube Cards. They are a DIY part of BTC, specially designed playing cards that take colour to a whole new dimension. There are six cards for each 6-sided cube, with all the colours and codes in all the right places so you can line them up, stick them together, and build your own 8-part 3D model.

Cyan Cube Cards arranged in a 2D net, edge to edge

Cyan Cube Cards arranged in a 2D net, edge to edge

flaps folded and edges connected, the net gets a new dimension

flaps folded and edges connected, the net gets a new dimension

As 1 of 8 Corner Colours, the Cyan Cube is 1 of 8 Corner Cubes that fit together to make the bigger BTC Colour Cube, showing the Hues, Tints, and Shades on the outside, and the Tones on the inside

As 1 of 8 Corner Colours, the Cyan Cube is 1 of 8 Corner Cubes that fit together to make the bigger BTC Colour Cube, showing the Hues, Tints, and Shades on the outside, and the Tones on the inside

If you want a simpler version of the spectrum that takes colour right back to the basics, you can make a Colour Basics Colour Cube. There are six DIY Cube Cards included in the Colour Basics deck.

Colour Basics  Cube Cards

Colour Basics Cube Cards

Colour Basics  Cube net

Colour Basics Cube net

first folds

first folds

final flaps

final flaps

finished  Colour Basics  Colour Cube, showing the White Corner front and centre, surrounded by 6 Tints and then 12 Hues (the Shades and Black are around the back)

finished Colour Basics Colour Cube, showing the White Corner front and centre, surrounded by 6 Tints and then 12 Hues (the Shades and Black are around the back)


The cards to build a Colour Basics Colour Cube are included as part of the Colour Basics deck. Colour Basics is a BTC 'starter deck' that brings us full circle back to the beginning. It includes 48 different Colour Cards, just like the Hues, Tints, Shades, and Tones you’d find on a traditional colour wheel.

Colour Basics also includes White and Black Corner Cards, 3 Hue Greys, and a scale of 9 True Greys, a Value-able reference for understanding colour, without its colour:


With 70 cards all together (64 double-sided Colour Cards + 6 Cube Cards), as an accessible but 'full-spectrum' introduction to the basics of colour, or as a 'double deck-er' booster for the bigger boxed set of 216, Colour Basics has it covered.


BreakThroughColour began in 2011 as a card-based concept and a handful of hues. Picture me with notebooks full of crazy codes and formulas, and hand-cut cards coloured in with crayons... I still have those first decks! After a few years of testing, tweaking, and prototyping, BreakThroughColour had its global debut as a crowdfunding project on Kickstarter in June 2015. It breached the funding goal in less than 3 hours and was endorsed by 561 Backers in 34 countries. This was the 'kickstart' that helped BTC to evolve into an established collection of 340 different Colour Cards and Cube Cards, with more cards already designed to expand the line.

Every card is printed on 330gsm German card stock, considered one of the finest quality playing card papers available. Features include:

  • durable weight and thickness
  • an extra smooth finish for easy handling
  • a black paper core to ensure opacity front to back
  • bright white outer layers for best visual contrast and true vivid colours

THE Colour Basics DECK   |   70 CARDS 

Colour Basics cards come tucked in a tuck box, a simple way to store and play. The deck includes a full spectrum of 12 pure CMY-based Hues, plus lighter, darker, de-saturated, and hueless variations:

  • 12 Hues (6 Corners, 6 Connectors)
  • 12 Tints
  • 12 Shades
  • 15 Tones (including 3 Hue Greys)
  • 2 Whites, 2 Blacks, and 9 True Greys

Colour Basics also comes with 6 Cube Cards to build a 3 x 3 x 3 3D Colour Basics model, a fun and fundamental way to introduce colour in all three of its 'primary' planes.


The BreakThroughColour deck of 216 comes in a custom rigid lidded box, and includes a 'suit' of 27 cards for each of BTC's 8 Corner Colour families. Here's how they stack up:

  • 30 Hues (6 Corners, 24 Connectors)
  • 60 Tints
  • 60 Shades
  • 64 Tones (including 4 Hue Greys)
  • White and Black

Laying sideways, the 216 are snug in the box for shipping. Stand them up and the box becomes a filing cabinet for your BTC Colour Library (with room enough for the Basics deck too). Sort them as you like, by colour or by code, or stash them away like flash cards to grab in a flash. Keep them handy as a fundamental tool in your studio, classroom, or design space, or take them with you, one by one or all-in-one, as a reference in the real world.


The BTC Cube Cards come shrink-wrapped in a stack of 54 Cube Cards:

  • 48 3x3-grid Cube Cards (6 for each of BTC's 8 Corner Colour families)
  • 6 6x6-grid Mini Cube Cards to make a smaller all-in-one BTC Mini Cube

The BTC Cube Cards are designed as a DIY way to give BTC a whole new dimension. Marked with lines to score, fold, and attach six flat cards into a 6-sided form, a number sequence will help you around the edges. If you want to keep your bigger 8-part BTC Cube together with magnets, the 'inside' cards are also marked on the back, with letter pairs and cross-hair bullseyes to help you align and centre each magnet.

You can also keep your Cube Cards as cards, to explore the almost countless colour flow connections, true to a Hue in 3 x 3s, or 0 to 5 in grids of 6 x 6. Corner to corner, layer by layer, face to face. Explore 'nets' with each set (6 cards, 11 ways), play 'dominoes' to see how far your flow can go, or create 'crossword' colour grids (Cyan down, Magenta across).



BreakThroughColour is a fundamental tool for the studio. Picture all those big swatches of colour, sitting on your work table, easy to reach and use like little colour avatars to plan your next palette, or get you through a colour block. Take them on a buying trip; use them to design your next collection or customize a custom order; work with them in a workshop; or bring them to your next retreat or art class to show and share with others.

BTW, the Colour Side may be your muse, but the Code Side may surprise you with its secrets to reveal itself as a validating and integral part of your creative process. When you really understand the rules of colour, the more fun it will be to 'break through' and break 'em!  



Right out of the box, BTC is a great starting point for design, a reliable reference to inspire and guide your team in house, and a new way to communicate in colour with clients, wherever they are. 

In this wired world, we often just 'pick with a click.' Computer colour pickers are handy, but BTC is a great reason to step away from the screen, lay your cards on the table, and really connect with colour in the real world. When you're ready to turn your analogue sketches and schemes into digital renderings and websites, there are RGB and Hex Codes on every card to guide you towards your gamut. And it works the other way too. Use BTC's codes and formulas to bring your virtual colours and palettes back out into your work with other media in the real world.


The BTC system is a dynamic, interactive resource to explore and explain colour as an element of art. Or math. Or science. Or better yet, let your students figure it out for themselves. “Okay class, hands up, who wants to play cards?” “Can we build with blocks instead?” Yes. You can. Seriously. How fun is that?

Begin with the Basics as a strong start for early learners, then level up with the bigger box of BTC Colour Cards and matching Cube Cards. For preschool, homeschool, high school, and higher, BTC is leading the way as a 'new school' tool, a perfect way to ready your curriculum for colour in the 21st century.


In addition to being a game-changer for colour pros and educators, turns out these colourful playing cards are pretty cool playing cards. BTC games (and games in development) include Level Up, 9-Square Solitaire, Straight Six, Perfect Match, and Game of Tones. Anyone for a game of colour?


Colourful cuts, a full-spectrum spring... what moves could you master? With cards like these up your sleeve, what tricks could you devise? Flourish and magic are part of the breakthrough.


BTC will add colour to your coffee table, card table, cottage, and conversation. Plan a palette or plan a wedding, design a quilt or decorate the whole house. Shuffle the cards and let yourself go with the flow, or put your colour IQ to the test. Theming, scheming, dreaming... 


Accessible and user-friendly, yet complete and comprehensive, BreakThroughColour has a place at work and play, in studios, workshops, design houses, schools, colleges, libraries, art institutes, galleries, museums, science centres... anywhere colour matters.

If you ask me, colour matters everywhere.

With over-the-edge colour on one side and drill-down codes on the other, in sortable cards and stackable cubes, with just the Basics or beyond to the BTC deck, BreakThroughColour is a perfect balance between open-ended exploration and zeroed-in logic; creative chaos and unified theory; interactive playful and informative educational; mixed-up and moveable or fixed in place in a whole new Colour-Cubed space. Colour by colours and colour by numbers, BTC is a math-a-magical meeting place between the art and science... It’s colour for both sides of your brain.


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Thanks for your interest in BTC and thanks for stopping by here to read all ABOUT it. If you have any questions or inquiries, please contact me directly any time. Your feedback and suggestions are also always welcome.